Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Pearl Hart On Western Wednesday...!

We don't often talk about the women of the old west, but there were a few memorable ones. Take Pearl hart, for instance!

While many may not have heard of her, she was a very colorful addition to the legends of those wild and crazy times!

Pearl Hart holds up an Arizona stagecoach

On this day, the amateur bandit Pearl Hart and her boyfriend hold up an Arizona stagecoach.

Little is known about Pearl Hart's early life. She was born in Petersborough, Ontario, in 1871, and moved to Toronto as a child. She eloped when she was 16, but her husband abused her and the marriage did not last. Eventually, Hart took up with a dance-hall musician and minor gambler named Dan Bandman, and in 1892 the couple moved to Phoenix, Arizona. When Bandman left to fight in the Spanish-American War, Hart relocated to the Arizona mining town of Globe, where she began an affair with a German drifter named Joe Boot.

Short on money, the couple determined to hold up a stage, though neither of them appears to have had any prior experience as robbers. On this day in 1899, Hart (dressed as a man) and Boot stopped a stage on the run between Globe and Florence. After taking $421 in cash from the three passengers, Hart took pity on them and handed back $1 to each so they could buy something to eat when they arrived in Florence.

Unskilled in the art of the getaway, Hart and Boot left an obvious trail and the sheriff of Pinal County arrested the couple four days later. Boot was jailed in Florence, but since the town had no detention facilities for women, Hart was jailed in Tucson. Within several days, Hart had apparently charmed several men into helping her and she escaped. Her freedom, however, was short-lived. A lawman recognized her in Deming, New Mexico, and returned her to Tucson.

Tried and convicted in a Florence court, Boot was sentenced to 30 years and Hart to five. Neither served out their terms. After several years of good behavior, Boot was made a trusty and walked off while doing fieldwork, never to be heard from again. After about a year in prison, Hart became pregnant. Eager to save the Arizona Territory the embarrassment of having to explain how Hart arrived at this condition while imprisoned, Governor Alexander O. Brodie pardoned her on December 19, 1902.

Hart's life after her release is shrouded in myth. According to the romantic version, Hart leveraged her single experience as a stage robber into a career in show business, billing herself as "The Arizona Bandit." Some said she traveled for several years on the vaudeville circuit, others that she toured briefly with Buffalo Bill's Wild West show. Historians have been unable to verify either of these claims. The more mundane but likely version has it that Hart quickly married an Arizona rancher named Calvin Bywater and settled down to a quiet life of domestic bliss. If Mrs. Cal Bywater was indeed Pearl Hart, she lived into her 80s and other people described her as "soft-spoken, kind, and a good citizen in all respects."

Somehow I don't think that ol' Pearl was cut out to be a very good bandit. Still she makes an interesting character to add to our growing list of stand-outs in the annals of the western days!

Coffee out on the patio this morning! Want some more coconut pie?


Chickenmom said...

Boy, she was a very busy lady! Usually don't think woman as robbers - but then there had been the duo of Bonnie & Clyde. Save me a big slice of that pie!

linda m said...

Somehow it doesn't surprise me that an inexperienced criminal would get caught. I do wonder what really happened to her in the long run. Very interesting story. Save me a slice of pie.

JO said...

There were many women out there and still today who's choices are the best. But history has revealed many.
Good post I like to think she settled down into the life of a rancher's wife. Maybe just a romantic thought.

I'll have some coffee please and the pie sounds really good too.

Mamahen said...

Sounds like she more destined to be a ranchers wife than a robber... so I hope that was her fate....I'll see everyone on the patio coconut pie, yum :))

HermitJim said...

Hey Phyllis...
I reckon there were some we will always remember, like Belle Starr. However, the lesser known have their place as well!

Thanks for coming by today!

Hey Linda M...
Many robbers, men included, got caught due to the lack of experience. Seems like she was happy enough in the long run!

Thanks for coming by today!

Hey Jo...
Let's hope that she gave up the bandit lifestyle. If she died happy, that's the main thing!

You are just a romantic ol' softy!

Thanks for coming over, sweetie!

Hey Mamahen...
Let's hope you are right!

Thanks so much for coming over today!

Dizzy-Dick said...

"Dan Bandman" was a good name for a musician. Sort of wondering if it was not his real name...???